Top 10 Amazing and Unusual Animals

   # 10 Aye-Aye

A lemur found only in Madagascar, the aye-aye’s strange look isn’t even the weirdest thing about this animal.  It uses its long, thin, middle finger to tap on wood in the same manner as a woodpecker.  When it senses through its large ears that a bug is underneath, it uses its long teeth to gnaw at the wood before plucking the insect, usually a grub, from the wood with the middle finger.  The Aye-aye is so strange-looking, that the local Madagascans often kill them, thinking they are demons.  Its name supposedly comes from Europeans crying out, “Aiiee-Aiiee” in fright when first seeing the primate.

#9 Honey Pot Ants

These ants can be found in southwestern United States and Australia.  Honey pot ants are unique in using their own bodies as living storage, but they function as more than just storing food.  The young ants stay in the nest and the worker ants, who collect honey, feed them.  As they consume more honey than they need, the surplus honey is stored in their abdomen.  The abdomen expands and the ants loose their mobility.  Some store liquids, body fat and water from insect prey brought to them by the workers ants.  They can later serve as a food source for their fellow ants when food is otherwise scarce.  In certain places, they are eaten by people as sweets and considered a delicacy.

#8 Basilisk Lizard

This lizard is also called a plumed or double crested basilisk, but its amazing ability to run on water gives this species its most recognizable moniker: the Jesus Christ lizard.  Abundant in the tropical rain forests of Central America, green basilisks spend much of their time in the trees but are never far from a body of water.  When threatened they can drop from a tree into the water and sprint upright about 5 feet per second across the surface of the water.  To accomplish this, they have long toes on their feet with fringes of skin that unfurl in the water, increasing the surface area.  Part of the iguana family, green basilisks grow up to about 2 feet in length.

#7 Archer Fish

These are a family of fish known for their habit of preying on land insects by literally shooting them down with water droplets.  The archer fish will eye its prey, with its lips just breaking the water surface.  Then contracting its gills it forces water through a narrow groove in the roof of its mouth forming a powerful jet of water and shooting the prey into the water where the archer fish can eat it.

#6 Barreleye

The barreleye, also known as the spook fish, is a deep-sea fish that is named for its barrel-shaped eyes that are inside its transparent head.  The fish has two holes where the eyes would normally be to fool predators.  It usually only looks upward to look for the silhouettes of bigger fish, but can occasionally look forwards as well.  Barreleyes baffled scientists for 50 years, as only dead specimens were seen, and the transparent area of the head is destroyed when the fish dies.  Thus, it was thought that the fish couldn’t see in front of itself at all, until a live one was captured in February of 2009.

#5 Glass Frog

This amphibian, also referred to as the see-through frog, is native to northeastern Ecuador and the Amazon slopes but it also resides in many areas of Central and South America.  Glass frogs are generally small in length.  The frog is known to eat its own young.  They are green in color over most of their bodies, except for the skin along the lower surface of the body, which is translucent.  The heart, liver and intestinal tract can be seen through this abdominal skin.  Glass frogs have webbed fingers and toes.

#4 Short-Horned Lizard

This small lizard, which is found in North America, is often wrongly named “the horned toad.”  But it is actually not a toad, and rather a reptile.  They feed primarily on ants and rely extensively on camouflage to avoid predators.  In order to ward off hungry predators, short-horned lizards are capable of inflating their bodies up to twice their size, resembling a spiny balloon.  If provoked the horned lizard can build up pressure in the regions behind their eyes and accurately squirt their blood out of their eye at attacking predators.

#3 Pistol Shrimp

The pistol shrimp are a family of shrimp found worldwide, from freshwater to cold seas.  They are, along with sperm whales and beluga whales, the loudest animals in the ocean, despite being only 1-2 inches long.  They generate this noise by snapping their special claw for less than a millisecond, which generates a bubble which in turn creates the noise, which is loud enough to kill a small fish.  This is how the shrimp hunts, using its snapping to kill its prey.  The animal hides, usually in a coral reef.  When its antennae detects a fish swimming nearby, the shrimp leaps out of cover, pulls its claw back and releases its bubble.

#2 Tongue-Eating Louse

   The spotted rose snapper, which is found worldwide, loses its tongue in a painful process.  First, the cymothoa exigua, or tongue-eating louse, swims up the fish’s gills and into its mouth.  It then claws at the fish’s tongue until it bleeds so excessively that the tongue dies.  The louse attaches to the muscles of what is left of the tongue.  The louse is able to act as the fish’s tongue, and does not actually hurt the fish in anyway.  It is the only known case of a parasite being able to actually replace and function as a host’s organ.

#1 Water Bear

   The ultimate survivor, the water bear can be found anywhere.  Specimens have been discovered on top of the Himalayas, to the deep sea, to the Polar Regions, and to the equator.  This is because the microscopic animal can survive temperatures ranging from -459 degrees to 305 degrees (Fahrenheit).  They can also go a decade without water, and live through 1,000 times more radiation than any other animal.  This means water bears could even live in outer space!  There are many animals on Earth that are both amazing and unusual, but the water bear is number one for its ability to survive absolutely anything.

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